The Armenian government announced on Tuesday that it will try to send 360 tons of flour, cooking oil, sugar and other basic foodstuffs to Karabakh to alleviate severe food shortages there caused by the blockade. Government officials expressed hope that Russian peacekeepers will escort the relief supplies to the Armenian-populated region.
Nineteen Armenian trucks carrying them reached the entrance to the Lachin corridor late in the afternoon but remained stranded there in the following hours, with Baku refusing to let them though an Azerbaijani checkpoint controversially set up there in April.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned the aid convoy as a “provocation” and “encroachment” on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. A senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Yerevan should renounce “territorial claims” to his country and stop impeding the restoration of Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.
The official, Hikmet Hajyev, said Karabakh should be supplied with basic necessities from Azerbaijan proper and the town of Aghdam in particular. “There is no other way!” tweeted Hajiyev.
Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership has rejected the proposed Azerbaijani supply line. It maintains that Baku should comply with a Russian-brokered ceasefire that mandates unfettered commercial traffic through the only road connecting Karabakh to Armenia.
Meanwhile, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian defended the attempted delivery of the humanitarian aid.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the situation that Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are currently facing,” Pashinian wrote in a late-night tweet. “The 360 tons of vitally important foodstuff sent to Nagorno-Karabakh is exclusively for humanitarian purposes.”
The shortages of food, medicine, fuel and other essential items in Karabakh have worsened significantly since Baku completely blocked on June 15 relief supplies that were carried out by the Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said last week that Karabakh is “on the verge of starvation” and called for stronger international pressure on Baku.